Why It Works
- Cast iron makes this a one-dish casserole from stove to oven, minimizing cleanup.
- Lightly browned onions, red bell peppers, and sugar replace the sweetness often lacking in out-of-season corn.
- Cornmeal gives the casserole a hearty rather than a custardy texture, distinguishing it from similar dishes like quiche or frittata.
This simple corn casserole is one of the most comforting dishes I know, filling my kitchen with the aroma of brown butter and sage from the moment I get started. Cornmeal gives this baked custard an unusual heartiness, but with plenty of milk and eggs, it's not bready at all. Thanks to cast iron, this casserole goes from the stovetop to the oven to the table without any extraneous dishes to clean up along the way, making it a no-fuss holiday side.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 ounce; 30g)
- 1 large onion, diced (about 1 1/4 cups; 7 ounces; 200g)
- 1 small bell pepper, diced (about 3/4 cup; 4 ounces; 110g)
- 2 tablespoons sugar (1 1/2 ounces; 40g)
- Scant 1/4 cup fresh sage (about 1/2 ounce; 15g), finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (1/4 ounce; 7g); for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 15 ounces fresh or frozen corn kernels (about 3 cups; 425g)
- 1/2 cup white or yellow cornmeal (2 1/2 ounces; 70g)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups milk, any percentage (10 ounces; 280g)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (4 ounces; 115g)
- 1 cup finely shredded cheese (3 ounces; 85g), such as cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Parmesan
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350°F (177°C). Melt butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat, then add onion, bell pepper, sugar, sage, salt, paprika, and cayenne. Cook, stirring, until onions are translucent and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes, then add corn. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until no water remains in skillet, another 8 to 10 minutes, then stir in cornmeal and remove from heat.
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and cream, then pour into corn mixture. Stir well to combine, sprinkle with cheese, and bake until softly set, about 20 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil only until lightly browned, just a minute or two more.
10-inch cast iron skillet
This casserole can be prepared in a 12-inch cast iron skillet, but will cook faster on the stove and in the oven, so use the visual cues as your guide. If you don't have a cast iron skillet, prepare the casserole in a large stainless steel skillet, then transfer to a 7- by 11-inch glass or ceramic dish to bake.